Tuesday, November 16, 2010

From court shoes to bunny slippers

Hi! My name is Alexandra Wong – Alex for friends – and I’m a word geek.

Translation: I write for a living.

Genesis
I developed serious word lust at primary-school age, a condition which I attribute cheerfully to Enid Blyton's mouthwatering picnic basket descriptions. In retrospect, the truth is much more Machiavellian (more about that later)

After graduating with a degree in English Literature, I worked my way up to sales manager in a Fortune 500 Company. The money was mostly good and occasionally obscene. I did well enough to win a couple of sales awards along the way, but something wasn’t quite right.

I found out what when my subordinate chattered excitedly one day, “Alex! Do you know how much commission we’ll be getting this quarter?”

She whispered the figure.

I dutifully widened my eyes. “That’s fantastic!”

I tried to look euphoric, but I obviously failed, because HER eyes widened and she went, “You really don’t like money huh?”

Well I wouldn’t go that far … but yeah. Money, alone, isn’t enough to rock my socks.

So I quit to find out what did. Rock my socks, I mean. I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with my life, so I did the next best thing: soul-searching.

I travelled. I figured there was a good chance I would come back with a more definite idea how I was going to put food on the table. You know, travel broadening one’s horizons and all.

So I backpacked to Kuching. Visited Turkey. Stayed in the US for 7 weeks.

I had a ball. Those experiences were too good to keep to myself, or worse, get forgotten, so I started a blog (which I’ve locked up, sorry). My small but loyal audience seemed to enjoy my stories. Heck, my friend’s MOM started following my blog.

That got me thinking. Hmm, maybe I could try getting them published? No harm trying.

So I began sending out pitches. To my surprise, all my stories got published without much trouble.

An idea began germinating … Maybe I could make a living out of writing commercially?

My baby steps into the writing world - as a serious career - began with travel articles, then navel-gazing pieces, then food reviews, then culture, then other topical issues …

Before I knew it, five years had passed. And today, on 16 November 2010, I find myself still happily scribbling about life, love and the universe - when I’m not tearing my hair out in stress that is.

That's how I made the transition from court shoes to bunny slippers.

Writing portfolio
My reports on travel, trends, food, relationships, information technology and personality profiles have made their way to numerous bastions of great writing publications. The list now includes publications with international audiences like Going Places (Malaysia Airlines inflight magazine), Malaysia Women’s Weekly, IntervalWorld (USA) South China Morning Post, Bangkok Post, Quill and Kuala Lumpur Explorer. Although I’ve written for all kinds of genres and covered all sorts of subjects, I am best known for my first-person accounts in Navel Gazer (where I try to be funny and touching and fail most of the time, but one must persevere!), my monthly column for Malaysia's highest-circulation English language daily The Star.

My work falls chiefly into two categories:

1. Media work. The abovementioned.

2. Corporate and commercial work. I develop editorial content across multiple mediums that serve as calls to action for a target audience. In English, that’s marketing and advertising collateral (corporate videos, newsletters, show dailies, press releases) and non-print media (websites and tv scripts).

I have also ghost-edited manuscripts for several Malaysian best-selling authors.

I am also a solopreneur. In 2008, I registered the enterprise WordMatters.

Academic Qualifications
My happiest academic years were spent in Universiti Sains Malaysia.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature with a minor in Mass Communication.

I still wonder how a ditzy bunny like me made it through that wilderness of William Thackeray, Philip Larkin, and Shakespeare *dramatic shudder*

Base
I divide my time between my hometown Ipoh; Penang, where I spent my formative adult years, and Kuala Lumpur, which I loathe and love in equal measures.

I've worked out of hotels, coffeeshops, cafes, friends' apartments, my car - I parked it by the roadside to key an epiphany into my handphone.

TMI
I am an egalitarian.

I am a pop culture fiend.

Some have dubbed my literary taste questionable. It certainly isn't very highbrow. It spans everything from Grapes of Wrath, to Chinese Tea Culture, to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, to blogs like Perez Hilton, Go Fug Yourself and Cracked.

On days when I feel like being a literary smartypants, I lurk at Slate, armed with a dictionary.

My ideal woman would be a Frankenstein of these parts: Katy Perry’s body, Lady Gaga’s chutzpah, Helen Mirren’s agelessness, Adam Lambert’s pipes and Douglas Adams’ funnybone.

Why I still write
I still get a kick out of seeing my byline :)

14 comments:

j said...

yeah..all hails Alexandra Wong!!!

Alexandra Wong said...

LOL!

Shadow Girl said...

Awesome~!

Anonymous said...

yeap a nice recap again

king said...

Interesting biography :P
WORK HARD!

Christopher C said...

Haha..cool one Alex!

Alexandra Wong said...

Thanks guys! *beams with pleasure*

Au and Target said...

So you're blogging again? Hooray! Someone, Alan?, thinks your literary tastes are questionable? Pfhah! No way.

William said...

I love your writing, you are so witty! Keep up the good work and good luck!

Anonymous said...

I read your article in The Star last weekend " stranger...smthg" and kinda like it ! And now i've started to read your blog..and I love everything that I read !...will keep reading..pls keep writing..:)

langkau said...

I like the way you put "backpacked to Kuching" and "Visited Turkey" on the same sentence. It makes Kuching look exotically international. :-)

You write well. :)

Alex said...

Thanks folks. Your words are ink for my pen :)

Anonymous said...

you are what I wanted to achieve a long, long time ago, a wonderfully refreshing writer.I simply love your writing.Keep up the marvelous work..

Alexandra Wong said...

I am honoured that you feel that way. Thank you.

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